How much should a legal website cost?
It’s hard to know how much you should be paying for web services, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with the industry. At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’d like to revisit one of the topics we’re most passionate about here at Mockingbird: lawyers being cheated by their SEO/digital marketing companies.
Below, I’ve listed the average costs for common web services. If your bill is significantly more expensive than what I’ve mentioned, make sure you fully understand what you’re paying for. Reread your invoice, or ask your provider for a list of exactly what you’re getting for your money. It’s possible multiple services are being lumped into one line item.
Otherwise, run screaming. You’re being cheated.
one time expense of $3k – $13k
The cost to develop a website is highly variable depending on the volume/production of content, and the site complexity and customization. If this is your firms first website, you’ll probably be on the lower end of that spectrum. If you’re migrating thousands of pages of content into one site and want every attorney bio page to change color based on the readers mood, be prepared to hand over the big bucks. (Check out our Legal Marketing Question video for more on this.)
monthly cost of $3.95 – $30
Your host is what keeps your website online. Your hosting bill should not be expensive. As a general rule, it should be cheaper (per month) than your cable bill. At the bottom end of the spectrum, you can host your website for less than $5 per month. GoDaddy hosting, for example, is currently running a whopping $4.99/month. We’re fans of WP Engine, the Cadillac of website hosting, which runs at $29/month.
from $20/year to a $5m one time cost
Your domain is, in its simplest form, what your website is called. Ie. Example.com. Domains are usually offered for a monthly, annual, or multi-year cost. At the cheapest, you could probably get your hands on a domain for ~$10/year. At the most expensive? Millions. Some domains are ridiculously expensive, but yours probably shouldn’t be. If you’re very particular and bought it off someone (think lawyer.com), it’s possible your domain is quite expensive. However, for something more run of the mill (think yourlawfirm.com or yourcityyourpracticeareaattorney.com), I’d estimate you should be less than $75/year.
$1,000 – $10,000 per month
The costs associated with SEO services are also highly variable, but here are a few ways we determine monthly budgets:
- How competitive is your location? Anecdotally, we’ve found that Texas and NYC are two of the most ridiculously competitive places in the country. If you’re trying to make an impact in one of these places, brace yourself for a hefty bill. On the other hand, are you one of 3 attorneys in your small town in the Midwest? Your bill should be significantly lower, for the simple reason that it should take less work for your site to perform.
- How big is your site? Generally speaking, this goes hand in hand with the size of your law firm. The larger your site the more time it will take to optimize it, therefore the higher your bill.
- How competitive is your practice area? Personal injury is going to be pricy, while bankruptcy law shouldn’t be. Are you trying to perform for Personal Injury, Divorce AND DUI? Buckle up.
Site Updates/Content Additions/Typo Fixes
This should be cheap.
Consultants will generally run anywhere from $100-$300 an hour. However, it will take anyone who knows their stuff less than 5 minutes to upload a new page of content (assuming it’s already been written). Fixing a typo should take less than 1 minute. Updating plugins, testing contact forms, and checking for penalties should take less than an hour, once a month. If your provider is sending you a $500 bill every time you ask that the copyright year be updated, seriously question their validity.
Like anything, though, there are two sides to every story. For every 5 law firms getting over charged for quick fixes, there’s a marketing firm working on a limited scope project ($500 to run a PPC campaign, for example) who is also being asked to change the wording on a home page slider once a week. In a monthly retainer relationship, the costs for maintenance and quick fixes are often rolled into an “SEO services” charge, but not always.
Think you’re being cheated? Need more information? We’ve got a super swell guide on how to Escape Findlaw, we’ve asked (and answered) 9 of the most important questions you should be asking your website developer, listed out 7 signs your SEO agency might be less than legit, listed the 3 most important parts of your website you should control, and given you 8 questions to determine if your SEO expert is an SEO expert.